Two Defendants Sentenced for Identity Theft and Conspiracy as part of Scheme to File False Income Tax Returns
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Alaska
Anchorage, Alaska - U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that Jameane Bolton-Williams, 39, and Joe Murl Douglas, Jr., 54, both of California, have been sentenced in federal court by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy M. Burgess, as the result of their respective roles in a scheme to steal identities and file false tax returns. Bolton-Williams will serve 82 months in prison and pay restitution of at least $91,927.65, and Douglas will serve 57 months and pay restitution in the amount of $43,043.55.
Bolton-Williams and Douglas conspired with two others to obtain identity information, such as names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, which were then used to prepare false IRS Forms W-2 that contained fabricated wage and withholding amounts. The co-conspirators then took the identity information and falsified documents to tax return preparation services in Anchorage, Eagle River, and Palmer, Alaska, as well as in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, California, to have tax returns prepared and electronically submitted to the IRS.
The false returns requested refunds totaling between $1,400 and $8,600 each. In many cases, the defendants applied for refund anticipation loans and had the fraudulently obtained tax refunds loaded onto reloadable stored value cards allowing them instant access to the money even if the IRS later rejected the falsely filed returns. The fraudulently obtained tax refunds were used to purchase personal items, including a 2002 Mercedes E320 Sedan.
Co-defendant Lucille Stansberry was previously sentenced by Judge Burgess to 36 months and one day in prison. She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $48,619.95. The fourth co-defendant charged in the case, Demetrick Ruffin, remains a fugitive.
During both sentencing hearings, the victims of this conspiracy spoke at length about the devastating effects these crimes have had on their lives, recounting their difficulties securing loans, paying for their children’s education, and providing for themselves in retirement.
In sentencing Bolton-Williams, Judge Burgess referenced the victims’ statements and noted the profound and continuing impact that identity theft crimes have on innocent victims who often find it difficult, if not impossible, to correct the effects such crimes have on their daily lives. He also commented on the fact that these types of crimes have been expanding in recent years, which was one of several factors he considered in fashioning the sentences in this case. Regarding Bolton-Williams, whose criminal history included multiple previous convictions for identity theft and fraud-related crimes, Judge Burgess was particularly adamant that any sentence he handed down should be designed to protect the public from future crimes.
U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler noted, “Identity theft in any of its myriad manifestations is a pernicious crime that causes untold and lasting difficulties to its victims. In addition, tax fraud affects and damages the vast majority of hard-working American taxpayers. These significant sentences reflect the damage done and federal law enforcement’s commitment to prosecuting those who perpetuate these crimes.”
“Refund fraud is a top priority for the IRS,” said Special Agent in Charge Teri Alexander of the IRS Seattle Field Office. “The sentences handed down to these defendants show that IRS Criminal Investigation and the US Attorney’s Office are committed to fighting this growing epidemic. Justice has been served on those who conspired to steal from the government and every U.S. taxpayer, but more importantly, we hope these sentences provide some sense of closure for the victims whose lives were so affected by the nefarious deeds of these identity thieves.”
This case was prosecuted by Assistant US Attorneys Retta-Rae Randall and Stephanie C. Courter. IRS Criminal Investigation investigated the case.
Ms. Loeffler commends the IRS Criminal Investigation for the investigation leading to the convictions in this case.
Updated February 9, 2015